On February 19 and 20, the Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested four animal rights extremists suspected of terrorizing University of California researchers.
A complaint filed in federal court in San Francisco on Thursday alleged Adriana Stumpo, 23, of Long Beach, California; Nathan Pope, 26, of Oceanside, California; Joseph Buddenberg, 25, of Berkeley, California; and Maryam Khajavi, 20, of Pinole, California used force, violence, or threats to interfere with the operation of the University of California in violation of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
Mr. Pope and Ms. Stumpo were arrested Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina by the FBI and members of the Charlotte Joint Terrorism Task Force as they returned to the United States from Costa Rica. The two appeared in federal court in Charlotte this morning, and will be extradited to California to face charges.
San Francisco Joint Terrorism Task Force members, University of California Berkeley Police officers, and FBI agents arrested Mr. Buddenberg at the Alameda County Courthouse this morning. Ms. Khajavi was also arrested this morning in Oakland. Both appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Nandor J. Vadas in federal court in San Francisco today.
The arrests stem from a series of threatening incidents beginning in October 2007:
On Sunday, October 21, 2007 a group of approximately twenty people, including Mr. Buddenberg, Mr. Pope, and Ms. Stumpo, demonstrated outside a University of California Berkeley professor’s personal residence in El Cerrito, California. The group, some wearing bandanas to hide their faces, trespassed on his front yard, chanted slogans, and accused him of being a murderer because of his use of animals in research. The professor told police he was afraid, and felt harassed and intimidated by the extremists.
On Sunday, January 27, 2008, a group of approximately eleven individuals, including Mr. Buddenberg, Mr. Pope, Ms. Stumpo, and Ms. Khajavi, demonstrated outside the private residences of several University of California Berkeley researchers over the course of the day. At each residence, extremists dressed generally in all black clothing and wearing bandanas to hide their faces marched, chanted, and chalked defamatory comments on the public sidewalks in front of the residences. One of the researchers informed authorities he had been previously harassed and the incident had caused him to fear for his health and safety.
On February 24, 2008, five to six individuals including Mr. Pope, Ms. Stumpo, and Ms. Khajavi, attempted to forcibly enter the private home of a University of California researcher in Santa Cruz. When her husband opened the door, a struggle ensued and he was hit by an object. As the individuals fled, one yelled, “We’re gonna get you.” The professor and her husband both told the FBI they were terrified by the incident.
On July 29, 2008, a stack of flyers titled "Murderers and torturers alive & well in Santa Cruz July 2008 edition" was found at the Café Pergolesi in Santa Cruz. The fliers listed the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of several University of California researchers and stated “animal abusers everywhere beware we know where you live we know where you work we will never back down until you end your abuse.” The investigation connected Mr. Buddenberg, Mr. Pope, and Ms. Stumpo to the production and distribution of the fliers. Distribution of the fliers preceded two firebomb attacks outside researchers’ Santa Cruz homes, both of which are still under investigation by the FBI.
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (Title 18 U.S.C. § 43) states that whoever uses or causes to be used any facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise, and in connection with such purpose, intentionally places a person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury to that person or an immediate family member, or conspires or attempts to do so, by a course of conduct involving threats, acts of vandalism, property damage, criminal trespass, harassment, or intimidation, shall be imprisoned for not more than five years.
“With so many legal options to make their voices heard and to effect policy change, it is inexcusable and cowardly for these people to resort to terrorizing the families of those with whom they do not agree,” said Charlene B. Thornton, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco office. “The FBI intends to pursue those involved in this sort of extremist activity to the full extent of the law.”
“This sends a strong message that our community won’t tolerate this type of senseless violence. You have absolutely no right to attack a family in the sanctity of their home. We are proud of the collaboration with our law enforcement partners on this case and look forward to those involved being held fully accountable for their actions,” said Santa Cruz Police Department Chief of Police Howard Skerry.
"We are very grateful for the efforts of federal law enforcement officials whose persistence has led to these arrests," said Mickey Aluffi, police chief at UC Santa Cruz. "The Santa Cruz Police Department has also worked tirelessly on the cases involving our researchers, and we are very appreciative of that office's commitment and support."
The Santa Cruz Police Department, University of California Santa Cruz Police Department, University of California Berkeley Police Department, Costa Rican Organismo de Investigacion Judicial, Costa Rican Attorney General’s office, United State Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, and the Interpol National Central Bureau in Costa Rica provided invaluable assistance throughout this investigation and contributed to the successful apprehension of these individuals.
Like all defendants, these individuals are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. A complaint contains only allegations and is not proof of guilt. However, each defendant could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
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